Christmas According to Liam is a sweet, little short story that sits between Life According to Liam, the first novel in V.L. Locey’s According to Liam series, and the next one, Love According to Liam, which I will review a bit later in this post. I want to remind readers that if you haven’t read Life According to Liam, this pair of reviews will have countless spoilers, so be forewarned.
Let’s begin with reminding everyone who Liam is—a precocious, incredibly funny little boy who is Mike’s nephew. Fans of this series will remember that Mike lived with his sister, Kelly, and Liam before meeting, falling in love with, and marrying Bryn Mettler, star goalie for the Pittsburgh Ravens, a professional hockey team. The two men are celebrating their first Christmas together along with Liam, a surprise guest when Kelly’s boyfriend, Adam, gets the call that his grandfather has passed away and she decides to attend the funeral with him. After a wake-up call from little Liam at around 4 am Christmas morning, hilarity ensues as the guys open presents and share the lovely holiday together. Bryn and Mike have discussed having a child one day, but this magical season prompts Bryn to put his life in perspective and make a startling announcement to Mike.
The best way I can describe this story is absolutely delightful and, as always, incredibly humorous. Liam is in rare form and his little mouth spews everything from pearls of wisdom to utter nonsense while Mike and Bryn just try to keep up. This is a glimpse of Christmas day and the day after from Mike and Bryn’s perspective and, honestly, these two just get better and better together. I love the affection between them, and Liam is just a delightful little man who keeps delivering one tremendously funny moment after another. I really enjoyed peering into this tiny window at the freshly married life of two of my favorite Locey characters.
Picking up right after the holidays, Love According to Liam draws us into the chaos of Mike preparing to be best brother in his sister’s upcoming wedding. Between tux fittings and flower ordering, as well as a hilarious bridal gown fitting and bridesmaid’s booze-laden brunch, Mike weathers it all until he gets a text from the last person on earth he ever thought he’d hear from again—his mother. Fans of the series might remember that Mike and Kelly’s parents threw both of them out of the house at eighteen and sixteen respectively—Mike for being gay and Kelly for being pregnant. It is Mike who has been by Kelly’s side all the intervening years and helped raise Liam. Now, apparently, his sister is ready to forgive them for the sake of Liam so that he might get to know his grandparents. Supposedly they have changed, but Mike is both unwilling and unable to acknowledge that because the pain is still too much to remember from that time long ago.
Alongside this fresh trauma is the push by Bryn to buy a house and rethink the idea of having children together. It’s all too much for Mike to handle and he feels himself becoming the angry and defensive person he once was, something that leaves him so confused and sad that it will take everything Bryn has to both console his husband and step back so that Mike can make decisions about just what, if any, future he might have with his parents.
There is an awful lot of emotional baggage to unpack in this third book in the According to Liam series. So much of who Mike is tangles with who he was and how he was treated by his ultra-religious and homophobic parents so many years ago. He tries to understand where Kelly is coming from, that her desire to repair things with their parents stems from her desire to do right by Liam by putting him and his need for knowing his grandparents first rather than her own emotions. Mike might get her decision, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. At the same time, Mike wants to love Bryn’s choice for the future home they both want, but realizes that maybe he’s just giving in to make Bryn happy. In other words, this novel finds Mike a confused bundle of raw emotions and attempting to put them all in perspective and do the right thing while still maintaining his sanity.
Bryn will also learn an important lesson or two as this story unfolds. First, that while his decisive and somewhat controlling personality may work for he and Mike in the bedroom and professionally on the ice, it isn’t necessarily the best asset when it comes to things like helping his husband through his current crisis or attempting to find a house for them to move into in the near future. Bryn will learn to curb his natural tendency to make everything right on his terms and see that perhaps stepping back and allowing Mike to steer things sometimes is for the best.
Through all this low level angst there is the ever bubbly and sharp minded Liam who is now a very grown up five with all the earmarks of being a famous actor someday. His ability to twist both his mother and his uncle around his little finger and keep everyone on their toes never fails to amaze me—that it’s all accomplished with a hefty dose of hilarity is the biggest selling point for me. Seriously, just when you feel your heart about to break for poor Mike, author V.L. Locey throws in a gem or two from Liam and the world is righted once again and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. It is the hallmark of her novels that keeps me coming back for more every time.
Love According to Liam leaves me with some of the best feels and completely satisfied. There is healing for both Mike and Kelly, a beautiful wedding, and a lot of humor rolled into another delightful glimpse at the loving marriage between two men who mean the world to each other. Read these books in order and enjoy the genius of V.L. Locey.